Away for the Weekend

Tomorrow morning, my friends and I depart for a weekend getaway to a cottage for the weekend. I am excited and I cannot wait to eat, drink, and be merry with fantastic company.

I am trying to minimize the amount of electronics I bring along (since I always seem to bring the entire store) and I am only bringing the following:

  1. My iPhone: Not so much for making calls or tweets, but just to be able to stay in contact if necessary and to play all of the music that I have downloaded in preparation.
  2. My Kindle: I am going to spend a lot of time sitting around and relaxing with a cool drink during the day, and what better way to relax than to read my many books?
  3. My SLR: I’m going north to beautiful scenery over a lake with friends. Do I really need to say more?

So it’s still a lot more than most people ever bring along, but I’m a digital native, sue me.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Tracking Ye Olde Expenses Using Google Chart Tools

Since I’ve started my hunt for a proper place to live downtown, another activity I’ve proactively started is to be a lot more careful about where and how I spend my money, in an effort to be able to afford rent and have enough money to continue to save.

Bob Newhart, why am I so broke?!

As a way of making myself accountable, I have created an expenses page that tracks my month to month expenses, which I track through Quicken Essentials.

I create the chart using Google Chart Tools, which is a pretty nifty way to display all your data using JavaScript. Though it’s a bit difficult to integrate it into WordPress posts, I took the simplest solution (NOT having to pull and parse data from custom fields) and just passed the data into the header manually.

Here’s the code I used:

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
	google.load("visualization", "1", {packages:["corechart"]});
	function drawChart() {
		var data = new google.visualization.DataTable();
		data.addColumn('string', 'Month');
		data.addColumn('number', '2011');
		data.setValue(0, 0, 'Jan');
		data.setValue(0, 1, 2610.62);
		data.setValue(1, 0, 'Feb');
		data.setValue(1, 1, 1973.72);
		data.setValue(2, 0, 'Mar');
		data.setValue(2, 1, 3303.36);
		data.setValue(3, 0, 'Apr');
		data.setValue(3, 1, 2836.86);
		data.setValue(4, 0, 'May');
		//data.setValue(4, 1, 882.64);
		data.setValue(5, 0, 'Jun');
		//data.setValue(5, 1, 882.64);
		data.setValue(6, 0, 'Jul');
		//data.setValue(6, 1, 882.64);
		data.setValue(7, 0, 'Aug');
		//data.setValue(7, 1, 882.64);
		data.setValue(8, 0, 'Sep');
		//data.setValue(8, 1, 882.64);
		data.setValue(9, 0, 'Oct');
		//data.setValue(9, 1, 882.64);
		data.setValue(10, 0, 'Nov');
		//data.setValue(10, 1, 882.64);
		data.setValue(11, 0, 'Dec');
		//data.setValue(11, 1, 882.64);
		var chart = new google.visualization.ColumnChart(document.getElementById('chart_div'));
		chart.draw(data, {width: 920, height: 240, title: 'Monthly Expenses',
		                  vAxis: {format:'$#,###', minValue: 0, maxValue: 5000}

Just drop that into your header file (copy and paste the header from header.php and drop it into your template file to isolate it to particular pages) and create a div with the id that matches whatever you put into this line:

var chart = new google.visualization.ColumnChart(document.getElementById('chart_div'));

And if we used that, you would use this to place your chart anywhere on the page like so:

<div id="chart_div"></div>

Ta daaa!

My eventual goal is to be spending less than $1500 a month, before rent, which ensures that I am saving at least SOME money. Well, here goes nothing.

Enjoy watching me waste my money, thanks for reading!

Look What Popped In Today!

What a lame title, I know. It’s been a long day, spare me!

Anyhoo, I received a mysterious package today from Brampton, ON and I didn’t remember making anyone mad recently, so I checked for ticking noises. I cautiously tore off the brown paper packaging, and I was pleasantly surprised to find this:


Well whaddya know, I had completely forgotten that I received the Klout Perk for this! Popchips sent over a nice box of goodies; billed as the healthy chips that have been never fried or baked. Might be just the escape I need while I try to cut back my junky eating habits.

It came with a nice hand written note telling me to enjoy along with a bunch of coupons, a fact sheet, and a passcode to send this very care package out to my friends.

Thanks Popchips and Klout!

PS. If you wish to receive one of these care packages, just let me know!

Handwritten noteChipclip!CouponbookTaste that chippy rainbow, I guess.

More Books Than a Library

Last week, I tweeted about how quickly I read. I took a look at my Kindle along with my purchasing behaviour and was flabbergasted – I read, on average, one book a week. Seriously, for a guy who read at most one book per semester while in school, this is a maddening pace.

Because of this, I wanted to track my reading habits by title and date, and just see what happens after an extended period of time.

Amazon Kindle

The product of this is the Books I’ve Read page on (No longer active.)

It shows you the book cover, the title, the author, and what date I started reading it on. I use Amazon Affiliate links on this page, after all, reading this many books is not cheap! Feel free to go around it however, these are great books for the most part!

Of course, I have to give most of my credit to the Amazon Kindle for re-sparking my love of reading, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to get back into reading. It’s light and compact, and it’s way easy to read everything on it.

Best Flight Ever, Thanks Porter!

Last weekend, I flew down to Chicago to get some rest and relaxation under my belt, and of course, eat mountains of food while I was there.

One of the best decisions I had made was to fly with Porter Airlines. Now, I had never flown with Porter before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been told that they flew with prop jets and that they had great customer service.

Understatement of the year.

They had sent me an email the night before my flight to remind me of my flight and any steps I would be able to take to save time at the airport, as well as a warning to try to arrive 60 minutes prior to my flight in case of any customs snafus.

I left work at about 3:00pm, got to the Porter building at about 3:15pm and waited for the ferry. Had to correct something on my boarding pass, went through inspections, and I was sitting down in the lounge at about 3:45pm. Wait what? I got from the front door to waiting for my flight in 30 minutes? Keep in mind my flight was at 5:30pm, so I had plenty of time to hang out. When I looked around, I realized I really had no problems with that.

The Porter Lounge is amazing. It’s a huge space with a cafeteria area, seating area, and a business area full of iMacs in case you need a computer for something else. I went and got myself a coffee (or four), a couple of snacks, and a bottle of water, sat down and enjoyed the free wifi that they provided for everyone.

I thought the pleasantries had ended there, but when I boarded the rather small prop jet, I felt really odd… my legs weren’t squished up against the seat in front of me and I could comfortably sit down.

To top it off, every flight also gets you a free drink (wine, beer, coffee, juice) and a snack box.

We touched down in Chicago, and I spent another 15 minutes going through customs, and I went on my merry way.

In all honesty, that had to be the best flight experience I have ever had. To break it down, here’s what you get when you fly with Porter:

  • Speedy check-in procedure.
  • Great lounge with free wifi, drinks and snacks.
  • Ample leg room and relaxed atmosphere.
  • Snack box and free drink.

Cannot wait to take another flight with them. Going to fly with them when possible. Thanks Porter!

Keep Dreaming, Pal

A friend of mine, who spends a lot of his non-working hours working on his music career, recently asked me to give him some feedback on the new video he had released. We’ve had a good back and forth every time he releases a new video and/or song, and I give him my honest feedback about both the music and the video production.

At one point in the conversation, he said this:

“I just think… that this is my ticket out of accounting.”

And I’m sure he was half joking, but that he half meant it. Quickly evaluating the state of the music industry and the difficulty one can encounter trying to break through, I quickly typed this reply:

“Haha, keep dreaming, pal.”

I hesitated to send it. Throughout my entire life, I’ve had people tell me to keep dreaming.

You want to make video games? Keep dreaming, Jon.
Dunk on a basketball net at your height? Keep dreaming, Jon.
Create a career out of something you love? Keep dreaming, Jon.

And then it hit me: why should I be someone who dismisses the dreams of another? There are enough of those in the world. We should spend most of our efforts supporting those around us and making sure they get every opportunity to succeed.

I quickly revised what I had written…

“Keep pushing, bud.”

Rookie Traveling Mistakes

If you have been following either my Facebook or my Twitter feeds, you are well aware that I am currently in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest Interactive (#SXSWi). So far, I’ve been acting as a shutterbug with my fancy pants Canon T2i, and hopefully that will continue.

On the way down, I was stopped by the customs agent. Here is the rough conversation that happened:

Agent: “What are you doing in Austin?”
Me: “Attending a conference about the web. South by Southwest.”
Agent: “Will you not be networking at South by Southwest?”
Me: “Well, yeah I guess.”
Agent: “That counts as a business reason. Do you have promotional items with you?”
Me: “PostageApp t-shirts…”
Agent: “Go into the doors on your right.”

Where I was grilled by another customs agent. Had all of my bags searched and was almost fined $5,300. You read that right, I was almost fined $5,300.

Why did this happen?

  1. I did not know the country of manufacturing for the t-shirts. I ordered them from a wonderful Toronto-based company, so I said Toronto. Turns out the shirts are from Honduras.
  2. I did not declare my granola bars under the “food” section of the customs declarations.

Both of these missteps could have cost me dearly (the amount mentioned earlier) and had I not had a clean sheet when I had entered, I might not have been so lucky. So here are some tips for travelers who are doing some promoting with t-shirts and other material:

  1. Declare all foods. I made this mistake thinking it was just fruit, meat, or other once-living items.
  2. Make sure you know the manufacturing location of any promotional apparel you will be bringing along. Not where you ordered it, but where the material itself came from.

I was lucky to have gotten off with just a warning, but at least I’m here now. Hopefully I will be taking notes, pictures, and video of my day to day activities here, so I can’t wait to start!


Thank You

After an incredible celebratory weekend (for my birthday!) I took the time to count up all of the touch points people had with me throughout. Here’s the quick run down:

- 209 Facebook wall posts
- 54 Twitter mentions
- 18 text messages
- 2 phone calls
- 1 voicemail

And I had plenty of interactions in real life too, so there are definitely some non-trackable points there.

I am incredibly humbled to have such wonderful people in my life who spend a bit of time out of their busy days to wish me a happy birthday in one way or another. As per usual, my presents is your presence.

Thank you for the awesome year, here’s to another one.

As usual: here’s me ruining my sweet messages with my ugly mug.

2011 Goals – January Report

Welp, I said I would do this once a month, so here I am! (Despite being a day late)

Let’s take a look at how I did:

Blog More

Definitely did this, blogged more than once a week in January, and it wasn’t too tough. The CRTC seems to have helped me out quite a bit, especially near the end of January. Looking to make it more regular and consistent, and hopefully something more valuable to someone other than myself.

Attend More Events

Half half. There were definitely a few events I missed out on. However, I do not regret that – it’s tough to go to an event after work and be home in time to get to sleep properly. I would rather forego events than sleep less than 6 hours a night. For the sake of my health of course.

Become More Active

No gym, but I did start a workout regiment at home in the mornings. It’s a great way to wake up and leads to quite a bit of energy for the day. Looking to keep increasing the amount of exercise I do at home, hopefully being able to fully supplement the gym. Still wish I had access to a pool though.


Saving for it!

Develop a New Skill

Haven’t decided on this one yet, but the year is young.

Be Awesome at Work

I sure hope so.

That’s it so far. Apologies on not creating more value for others with this blog post, but I regret nothing.

Here’s to February!

Scaling Back (Eating) Operations

One of the first things people learn about me is that I eat a lot. No really, I can consume enough to feed a small village within a day. It is both unhealthy and hilarious.

As of late, due to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle I have chosen to lead, my body has been taking a hit. Love handles, a little belly, you name it. In a (losing) effort to bring my weight back into my average range, I have begun to scale back on the amount I eat.

Comparison (Universally applicable, I hope)

Before = two 12oz steaks, two scoops of mashed potatoes, and bread. No. Problem.
Now = one 10oz steak, one scoop of mashed potatoes, and some bread. Resist urge to eat more. Cause I will.

I have been doing this since about November, and only recently has my body begun to appreciate my efforts. It has stopped barking orders during dinner time, orders that sound like a drill sergeant during boot camp. Only it was a boot camp to get fat.

“Eat the rest of that plate, son, or you will be the laughing stock of this fat camp.”

No, good sir, I refuse.

Thankfully, my body has adjusted to eating a regular person’s portion. Maybe still larger than most would consider “regular,” but hey, it’s progress.

Next step: actually stick to a regular exercise plan, more than the pushups and sit-ups that I do in the morning. Easily doable.

Next-er step: use my new found strength (from exercising) to fight crime. Maybe plausible.